Eating Disorder Awareness Week at Bournemouth University


Bournemouth University (BU) held a number of events as part of Eating Disorder Awareness Week to help raise awareness about eating disorders and increase people’s understanding of conditions.

The events featured guest speakers talking about their personal journeys and battles with eating disorders. Sessions also looked at eating disorders in children and young people and the myths and truths about disorders.

Guest speaker John Evans, Author of ‘Becoming John: Anorexia’s Not Just for Girls’, gave a powerful account of his battles with anorexia over the last 14 years and stated “anorexia used to define me and took over every aspect of my life”.

Another guest, Ilona Burton (pictured) blogger at The Independent, spoke about her struggles with anorexia and bulimia, particularly throughout university, and her journey back to health.

Eating disorders affect 1.6 million people in the UK alone, claiming the highest number of lives of any other mental illness. Eating Disorder Awareness Week aims to increase people’s awareness and understanding of conditions.

Dr James Palfreman-Kay, Equality and Diversity Advisor at Bournemouth University said “I hope this week has increased people’s recognition, awareness and knowledge about eating disorders. John’s presentation was powerful and he managed to show how something like this can happen to anyone.”

Dr Sarah Williams, lecturer of Psychology at BU said “hopefully events like these will get people talking, tackle stigma and give people the confidence to help friends”.

One in ten people in the UK will have to deal with symptoms of Anorexia, Bulimia or Binge Eating at some stage throughout their lives. Research has shown that students are particularly vulnerable to mental illnesses due to high levels of stress and unhealthy university lifestyles.

Dr Williams has been conducting research into eating disorders for over eight years and is currently conducting research into the provision of online motivation interventions for those with eating disorders. Williams has also helped to setup the eating disorder research group to further explore issues related to early identification and interventions for eating disorders.

The events which took place at Bournemouth University’s Talbot Campus, were attended by over 400 people over the course of the week.

To find out more about dignity, diversity and equality at Bournemouth University, visit their You Tube channel to see some of the highlights undertaken by staff and students in the last year.

New films will raise awareness of mental health issues in Bournemouth


A set of films created by Bournemouth University and Dorset Healthcare will help to reduce the stigma around talking about mental health issues, it is hoped.

Three films have been made, featuring BU staff, students and members of the local community talking about their experience of mental health problems and overcoming them.

They are available to watch on the Bournemouth University YouTube channel and are the latest in a series of awareness-raising activities organised by BU and Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust.

The films are part of the national Time to Change anti-stigma campaign, being run by leading charities to encourage people to talk about mental health issues and reduce discrimination.

Dr James Palfreman-Kay, Equality and Diversity Adviser at BU, said: “We thought about how we could bring something to life where we have got students, staff and members of the community talking about their own experiences.

“I’m hoping that it will start conversations around mental health and continue these discussions.”

BU and Dorset Healthcare have been working together to combat stigma around mental health for the past three years, holding regular talks and events.

Key achievements include a 150 per cent increase in attendance at mental health events, a poster campaign, an institutional pledge, and activities like quizzes and football tournaments to help raise awareness.

The videos were premiered at a Mental Health Awareness @ BU event, which took place on the university’s Talbot Campus and was attended by around 100 people.

Carer and Service User Co-ordinator at BU Angela Warren is featured in the videos, and spoke about her own experiences with depression and self-harm.

She said: “I want to help raise awareness of the issues and help people understand what it is really like.

“My hope is that we keep on talking about mental health and we don’t shy away from it.

“We need to constantly challenge that stigma and treat people with mental health problems with the same understanding and compassion that we do any other illness.”

Gail Taylor, Patient Experience Facilitator at Dorset Healthcare, said that the events raising awareness of mental health issues had been well-received.

“We have had a huge amount of positive feedback, both anecdotally and written.

“It has allowed us to reach a much younger audience and helped them to connect with the health community locally, which has been really important as well.

Watch the Time to Change videos

Eating Disorder Awareness Week runs at Bournemouth University


A series of events were run at BU to raise awareness of eating disorders and the support available at the university and in the local area.

The week of events ran during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, and included sessions on the recognition of eating disorders and the impact it might have on individuals, the role of the internet and the local services available to provide support.

There was also a poster presentation of research being done by BU Psychology students into eating disorders, and sessions run by Jess Griffiths, director of local eating disorder charity I*EAT.

Jess, who herself has had an eating disorder, started the charity at Bournemouth University, running a weekly support group on campus before receiving external funding and moving elsewhere.

She said: “I ended up agreeing to run a drop in for an hour a month at Talbot Medical Centre [on BU’s Talbot Campus] and put a poster onto the back of toilet doors just to see what would happen.

“I think I also just knew that my experience was never going to be wasted, I kind of knew that once I had recovered I was going to use the experience for good and to help others.”

She added: “After this week, we are launching a drop in service for an hour in the Chaplaincy on campus so that we will see more students coming forward. It is the best way for students to get in contact and then we can refer them to GPs and get them some professional support.”

There is now also a weekly clinic at the GP surgery on Talbot Campus, run by Micki Bennett, a clinical specialist nurse in eating disorders, who sees students who present to the GPs there displaying symptoms of eating disorders.

Micki said the clinic was important in providing an easily accessible and unobtrusive place for students to get additional support and monitoring for eating disorders, but also to increase awareness of the conditions among GPs.

She said: “Staff from the GP surgery can come to me and say ‘I have just seen someone and I’m a bit worried.’

“There is a much more informal communication, which has heightened the awareness of what is going on.

“If there is somebody who isn’t motivated to come and get help, the doctors and nurses can talk to me and I can help treat them by proxy almost.”

Another session run as part of the week heard from Alice Jackson, who recovered from her exercise addiction and received treatment and support for her eating disorder whilst studying at BU.

She said that it can be hard to spot if a friend or housemate has an eating disorder, adding that if people are concerned they should look for changes in habit.

“When you have anorexia you are not eating normally and you don’t really want to socialise in terms of how you are eating. It is noticeable but not in some ways so it depends on what your accommodation is like.

“I had a room with a bathroom and the only things I ate were things I could do in my room. It is difficult to spot but if someone is not engaging in food and are eating things that are very different.”

The programme of events was run and supported by a number of organisations including charity I*EAT, Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust and organisations and services at BU – including the Students’ Union, Equality and Diversity service and the Psychology group within the School of Design, Engineering and Computing.

Dr James Palfreman-Kay, Equality and Diversity Adviser at Bournemouth University, said: “The events have been attended by more than 250 people, including schools, parents, students and academics.

“It shows that we are putting partnership into practice, with the collaboration between Dorset Healthcare, BU and I*EAT.”

I*EAT will be launching a drop in clinic at the chaplaincy service, in Talbot House on Talbot Campus, from 3-4pm every Monday.

Anybody who is concerned about themselves or a relative or friend with an eating disorder is welcome to pop in. For more information about the charity and the support they offer visit